Getting past the fact that Warner Bros. The Corpse Bride is basically Nightmare Before Christmas 2, it’s still a blessing that Tim Burton has finally returned to his element, the place in which we all learned to love him. After over a decade of Burton working on films outside of his comfort zone (Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Big Fish, Planet of the Apes, Sleepy Hollow, Mars Attacks!), he is finally back in full force. Bride is his statement saying, “I’m still here fans, I can still do it right!”
In Corpse Bride Victor Van Dort (Johnny Depp) is set to marry Victoria Everglot (Emily Watson) only he can’t seem to get his vows right. After embarrassing himself and his family in rehearsal Victor heads off into the woods to practice. After fumbling his words a million times, he stops and thinks about Victoria who inspires him to get it right- and when he places the ring on a branch in the ground, it comes to his attention that he just proposed to a corpse in the ground! The Corpse Bride (Helena Bonham Carter) will not let him go and wants him to stay in the underworld with her, while Victor is fighting to get back to Victoria. While in the underworld, Victoria is back on Earth now getting married to an evil man with plans of killing her and taking her family’s money. If you can’t figure out the rest, I don’t know what to tell ya.
The screenplay is beyond simple, and it’s obvious that this film was written for children- and I’m not saying there’s anything wrong with that. The story unfolds as any Disney movie would and heads in the direction in which it was meant to go- and then the happy ending unfolds. Although the story is A, B, C simple, John August, Pamela Pettler and Caroline Thompson write in some amazing puns and creative dialogue which bring the story to life. My favorite little ongoing joke is the maggot (Enn Reitel) that lives inside The Corpse Bride’s skull. He’s constantly acting as her conscience and making tons of fabulous jokes.
As you can tell from the trailers and the stills, the film looks fabulous and almost real. When watching in a theater it feels like you’re watching another Nightmare, only the animation is smoother and less choppy. As much as that sounds like a good thing, I personally think the reason you do stop-motion is to achieve that choppy effect and by smoothing it out you might as well be doing CGI. So thumbs down to the perfection (yeah I’m nuts what do you want). As for the cinematography, the movie is much more colorful that Nightmare was, it has wonderful tints of blues and green over most of the shots, which can easily be seen in the stills we’ve provided.
Another thing I didn’t like about Bride was its original score by the amazing Danny Elfman, and Mike Adams. It sounded like they were trying too hard not to recreate the score from Nightmare that it actually hurt the originality of it. Although one of the better tracks sounded right out of Nightmare Before Christmas. Overall I don’t see myself picking up the soundtrack or even singing along if I ever watch the movie again- even though things do change with time.
Sure I keep comparing Corpse to Nightmare Before Christmas, but come on, it’s the same f-cking movie! You have Victor’s skeleton dog who’s Zero, you have Victor who’s Jack, the Corpse Bride who’s Sally, and you even have a mad scientist in both films! I still don’t know if it bothers me or not, I really wish Burton/WB would have said in the ads “in the world of Nightmare Before Christmas comes the next chapter” etc, etc. I would love to see more and more films that take place in this “world” of his, but I feel like Tim was truly trying to make NBX 2, which still kind of urks me.
In the end the movie isn’t superb, but it’s still quite a good time. When I first saw Nightmare I HATED it, but years later found that it’s easily one of my favorites of all time. I feel that over time I may enjoy Bride even more too, I just hope that I can find a place in my heart for it, instead of always looking at it as the bastard child of Nightmare.